The honest truth

It’s not always easy living abroad. Whilst the experience of a new country is like nothing else it’s difficult to strike the right balance between the daily routine of school and work and boring household stuff in order to actually experience the country you come to live in. My job, as I see it, is to be chief organiser of excursions, holidays, visits and touristy things whilst balancing family life. I can’t always manage it as my brain sometimes takes a day off! Also, everyone is utterly knackered, it’s humid and raining all the time (but it is the rainy season), we don’t know the language or the culture and have a list of places everyone wants to go that’s longer than we can manage. Oh and there are mosquitoes.....lots and lots of mosquitoes.

But, as with everything in life, we are finding the balance. We all pick up when going on an adventure, we love our house and the area we are in which is right near the river (hence the mosquitoes). We have air conditioning so can avoid the humidity and the rain doesn’t stop us (we’re British for goodness sakes!). The language we are picking up and the Japanese don’t seem to mind (that I understand anyway!) and they don’t mind us using google translate either. As for the culture, well we are ignorant foreigners so I think we get away with it. The list of places to visit will always grow and change and some may even get crossed off (below is another, local, beautiful Buddhist temple). And the butterflies are absolutely huge and beautiful (which in my mind balances out the amount of mosquitoes).

As you see there are many positives to balance out the negatives. Another example is the dogs. We miss them terribly and are very sad that our lovely Ebby passed away whilst we weren’t there. But it also means we can have long days out without worrying about them or arrange weekends away and not arrange their care too. Also, our house and the climate would not be right for them. We are comforted by the fact we made the right choice for them. But we are sad no to have them with us. Yesterday I swore I saw Ebby out of the corner of my eye but it was just a bunch of cushions. We are so use to their presence it is still odd not to have them here. They will always be the part of our lives that is missing. It’s partly due to the loss of Ebby that we’re popping back to the U.K. for nearly 3 weeks this summer. We hadn’t planned to but our beloved pet’s death made us all homesick so we’re going home for hugs with our other dog, friends and family....and fish and chips!

The parks here in Japan are awesome and everywhere. (The picture above is me gearing up for a water fight with the kids in one of our favourites). We have two massive parks only 10 minute bike-ride away from our house so that’s a good escape (this was written in a park). Also, the two schools for our three kids are fabulous. In fact I’m pretty sure our eldest girl would love to have stayed in school rather than go on summer holidays. They were only there for six weeks before the year finished but said they felt like they’d been there forever.

One of my biggest challenges is mothering a pre-teen. Our beautiful eldest girl is suddenly changing. Some of it incredibly positive as she discovers her future identity. Some of it I find difficult as the hormones swirl and the mood swings hit. She and I are very similar so the arguments are intense. Currently we’re still friends! I’m learning that she doesn’t always want to join in with the other two kids now. I’m learning I need to make exceptions and give her space. I need to walk away from her direct challenges and help her feel comfortable in her skin and at peace in her heart. I’ve set up new email addresses for the kids which should help as I think she currently feels quite lonely. There have been some days when I honestly can’t cope with her. I want to be her friend and I want to stay calm but I also want to be understood. It’s something which I’m very aware that I need to work on as well as just being there for all the children individually. I know I won’t always be a perfect mother but I can at least strive to be a better mother. The big kids and I recently visited the local handcraft fair (which was huge - see picture below) and had a wonderful time. It’s days like those that prove to me that it’s all possible.

The hardest thing since moving here is discovering the very real possibility that I could be living with fibromyalgia. My sister (who was diagnosed last year) put me on to the idea. A few symptoms of endometriosis and fibromyalgia overlap but recently my endo seems to be improving (yay!) whilst other pains and aches associated with fibromyalgia seem to be getting worse (boo!). But I’m not diagnosed yet and I’m not sure of the procedure in Japan so it may take a while. Plus, with the big kids already on summer holidays it may be more difficult until September.

So there it is. Life carries on. It’s mostly good with some challenges to keep us grounded. We’re down to 5 cardboard boxes with nearly everything unpacked which feels glorious and our house already feels like home.

And that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

See ya folks. Xxx